Applying to teach abroad may be a daunting task. If you’re looking for the easy way to come over, programs like Interac or working at Eikaiwas in Japan sound good for the most part. If you’re considering Korea, you might go the Hagwon route, but know that not all Hagwons are created equal. Like all good things in life, it takes hard work and dedication and government funded programs aren’t a bad way to go.
For those of you debating JET or GEPIK, both have their merits and downfalls. I’ll discuss the similarities, differences and overlap between the two programs. For both programs you NEED a bachelors degree. The only difference between JET and GEPIK is for Korea, you need a TEFL certificate. You have to choose the program with the right fit for you and hopefully this will help you do so.
Related: JET Program Tokyo Orientation FAQ
- Depending on your situation, you don’t work very much for a great salary of ¥3,360,000.
- You have a very easy transition in the beginning (everyone will help you, people are super nice, you have a month to adjust and lesson plan before school starts).
- You get your resident card immediately when you land at the airport. This makes getting a bank account, phone, and utilities a piece of cake.
- You don’t have to pay for your flight over. JET will immediately pay for the flight and you don’t have to wait to be reimbursed.
- There’s a lot of orientations which means you’re given guidelines on how to survive in Japan. You get post departure orientation, Tokyo Orientation, and prefectural orientation. These will help demonstrate on how to teach, and lesson plans for your benefit.
- You get your pension back when you leave Japan so it’s like saving money!
Related: Advice for Moving to Japan
- Depending on your school, you don’t get much time off. During summer and spring vacation you are most likely required to be desk warming at school. I was also never given Obon off because I’m not Okinawan.
- The cost of living in Japan is higher. For example, a movie ticket costs about $17 and for a 500 gram bag of granola cereal, it costs about $9.
- It’s really easy to spend a lot of money if you’re not careful because Japan is a cash is KING society.
- You’re part of a mass intake which means you don’t always know where you’ll be.
- The start up cost in Japan is about $2000-$5000 depending on if you need a car, housing, furniture, deposits, etc.
- 300,000 won settlement fee (after you get your resident card).
- Your salary starts at 2.1 million won but the cost of living in Korea is cheaper. A movie ticket, drink, and popcorn costs $13 and a huge American size box of cereal costs $5.40. For a bowl of piping hot delicious soup and sides, it will cost about $6.
- Housing is paid for by your contracting organization.
- You will actually be teaching more.
- You get two weeks off for winter/summer vacation.
- You know exactly where your placement is and you send your paperwork in after your position is offered.
- You get a pre-paid sim card for your phone 4 days into Korea thanks to Korvia.
- You need about $1000 to survive your first month until pay-day.
- When you finish your contract, you receive one month’s severance pay.
- You have to pay for your flight over (you get reimbursed 1-2 months after you arrive).
- You have to wait to make an appointment with immigration after you have your health check-up and then you can get your resident card.
- Depending on when you arrive, you’re just thrown into the classroom without any orientations.
Related: What to do in Seoul
JET and GEPIK Pro Overlap
- You get 20 days of paid vacation.
- Someone or a service will fetch you at the airport.
- All national holidays are off.
- You can renew your contract for up to five years.
- Participants who are in good standing, have successfully completed their contract, and are not looking for third-party work in their host countries will be provided their flight back to their home country.
Related: Making Friends in Korea versus Japan
For my American counterparts looking to go on JET, the application is now open. Go to the official website for more details and information. For those of you looking to come to Korea, I highly recommend going through the recruiting agency, Korvia for an easy transition to Korea and more information. If you’re looking to leave your host country from abroad and come to Korea, click here.